Nearly every year since 1996, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is required to release a report about the United States’ advanced telecommunications capability and to adopt measure to measure of deployment. Last week, the FCC released a fact sheet and a statement by Chairman Ajit Pai regarding this year’s draft Broadband Progress Report which finds that while mobile services are emerging and providing consumers with new ways to access the internet, those services are not substitutes for fixed broadband access.
In his statement, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai writes that “…mobile broadband service is not a full substitute for fixed service.” And the fact sheet goes on to note that “…there are salient differences between the two technologies…there are clear variations in consumer preferences and demands for fixed and mobile services.” We are heartened to see the Chairman’s statement on this issue, which closely echoes the comments we submitted on this issue in the fall.
Consumers, as we noted, are looking for an experience — they want broadband that just works. It is, simply put, the whole package — not just impressive speeds. Fixed broadband provides the experience consumers expect more often than mobile. Beyond that, fiber provides the fastest speeds, but more importantly, it also enables the most reliable, high-quality, and lowest latency service possible.. Our research shows consumers want the broadband experience that only fiber can provide, and they’re willing to pay for it. People are willing to pay, on average, 8% more to rent and 2.8% more to buy an apartment equipped with fiber.
Providers can see that consumers want fiber, and are adjusting their plans in response. In a 2016 survey of 172 rural broadband providers, NTCA found that 82 percent had developed long-term fiber deployment strategies; a notable increase from 74 percent in 2015. 66 percent of respondents planned to be able to provide fiber networks to half more more of their customers by the end of 2019.
At the end of the day, mobile broadband just isn’t an adequate substitute for fixed broadband network technologies like fiber. We’re glad to see that the FCC and Chairman Ajit Pai agree.